Excellence Awards winners revealed at celebratory event

Thursday, 10 December 2020 - 4:45pm

The six winners of Homeless Link’s Excellence Awards 2020, which pay tribute to the best of the homelessness and supported housing sector, were announced at an online celebratory event on the evening of 10 December.

This year, the awards recognised the contributions made by homelessness services during the Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 has been a difficult year for many, but particularly for people who have no place to call home. Homelessness services have risen to each new challenge, adapting and innovating to ensure that the people they work with have been kept safe and supported at this unprecedented time.

We were overwhelmed by the quality of the 100 plus awards entries received across the six categories, all of which demonstrated high levels of innovation and showcased the impactful work that is being carried out across the homelessness sector.

Our Homeless Link Excellence Awards 2020 winners are:

The Jacqui McCluskey communicating for change award - akt

Excellence in co-production award - Shelter

Innovation in housing award - Stonewater

Promoting partnerships and collaborative working award - Cornwall Housing Ltd

Social enterprise of the year award - Handcrafted Projects

Excellence in supporting people award - The Magpie Project

Further information on the winning services and the runners up is below.

The six winners will each have a short film produced about their service, enabling them to showcase their exemplary work with funders, strategic partners and supporters. They also received a trophy and certificate, with runners up receiving a certificate.

Our Homelessness in 2020 event was a chance to reflect on the last nine months and celebrate the exceptional contribution of the homelessness and supported housing sectors.

We shared some of the excellent practice taking place, and spoke about Homeless Link’s work over the last year, which prioritised supporting our members through the pandemic, adapting our ways of working and delivering grants, projects and events we hadn’t originally planned for. The event audience also heard from several special guest speakers including Dame Helen Mirren and Kelly Tolhurst MP, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing.

As we move into the New Year, it will be important that the work of our members continues as a crucial element of the pandemic response and beyond. Homeless Link will, as ever, offer our support in these efforts, providing practical guidance and learning and campaigning for a policy landscape that will help to end homelessness for good.

The awards winners and runners up

The Jacqui McCluskey communicating for change award

Winner: akt

akt supports LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment. They won for their targeted media content campaign, which ensured that the stories of a growing number of LGBTQ+ young people, facing homelessness as a result of the pandemic, were heard among other more prevalent news reporting. Supportive communications and digital content to enhance their support for young people during lockdown formed another part of akt’s innovative and vital work.

Commended: Caring in Bristol

Commended: Glass Door Homeless Charity


Excellence in co-production award

Winner: Shelter

Shelter exists to defend the right to a safe home. They won for their GROW (Getting Real Opportunities for Work) Trainee Programme for people experiencing multiple needs, which is designed alongside people with lived experience of homelessness. GROW trainees are involved in shaping and improving Shelter’s activities and services, and helped the organisation to explore local needs and solutions throughout COVID-19. Trainees have been supported to work remotely through individual and group wellbeing sessions during the pandemic and have provided peer-to-peer wellbeing support for clients.

Commended: Adullam Homes Housing Association

Commended: Greater Manchester Housing First


Innovation in housing award

Winner: Stonewater

Stonewater is a social housing provider, with a mission to deliver good quality, affordable homes to people who need them most. They won for the extension of their specialist domestic abuse services, which include supported housing for South Asian women and children and women with complex needs, a community outreach support programme and an LGBTQ+ safe space. During the pandemic, Stonewater provided new families with a safe space to live and person-centred support, using vacant properties from their general needs housing stock. They secured funding to furnish the homes and to provide the technology to offer clients virtual support from their domestic abuse coaches.

Commended: Enterprise Homes Group

Commended: Social and Sustainable Capital


Promoting partnerships and collaborative working award

Winner: Cornwall Housing Ltd

Cornwall Housing provides high quality homes and housing services to communities across Cornwall. They won for the range of partnerships developed while supporting people in 11 porta-cabins in Truro through the Government’s Everyone In initiative. Cornwall Housing came together with the council, various charities and services, community organisations, the police and others to keep residents safe and well, overcoming challenges from food shopping and cooking to prescriptions. They also worked with the Eden Project to set up classes to gain a horticultural qualification. Their person-centred and holistic partnership approach successfully engaged people to stay in their accommodation.

Commended: Connection Support

Commended: Southwark Council-Housing Solutions Services


Social enterprise of the year award

Winner: Handcrafted Projects

Handcrafted works to support the most disadvantaged people across communities in the North-East of England. They won for their Hope and Future supported housing project, which empowers people experiencing homelessness to gain valuable skills and maintain long-term tenancies. They have plans to rapidly scale-up the social enterprise over the next 12 months in order to house 25 more people with complex needs who have become homeless or are at risk of homelessness due to the pandemic. Handcrafted also has partnerships with hostels, social services and probation which enables them to house further people as they become homeless, leave the care system or leave prison.

Commended: Overstream Clean & Garden

Commended: Unseen Tours


Excellence in supporting people award

Winner: The Magpie Project

The Magpie Project provides practical support and advice to mothers and children under five in temporary or insecure accommodation in Newham. They won for swiftly adapting their service during lockdown to become an emergency delivering food bank, and liaised with the local authority to make sure that their families were included in their emergency response They delivered food bags, hot prepared meals, clothes, nappies, buggies and mobile phones. Beyond the necessities, to help support mental health and wellbeing, The Magpie Project delivered flowers, craft packs, Easter eggs and Eid packs. They also continued to provide their usual support services.

Commended: Groundswell UK and Great Chapel Street Medical Centre

Commended: The Y